After the National Transportation Safety Board held its series of truck and bus safety hearings last year, it decided to look further into the issue of truck parking. The board last week issued several recommendations to help address the parking shortage, which is a key issue in the debate about truck driver fatigue.

The NTSB recommends that the Federal Highway Administration include the National Industrial Transportation League, a shippers group, as a stakeholder in the ongoing truck parking study that is being conducted as called for in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.
"Shippers, brokers and consignees frequently influence truck schedules and, therefore, the Safety Board concludes that they should be an integral part of any solution to the truck parking dilemma," reads a letter from NTSB Chairman Jim Hall to the FHWA.
As part of that report, the board also recommends that FHWA evaluate the benefits, related to truck parking, of eliminating the prohibition against private development of rest area facilities on interstates.
Although the board notes that the federal law was enacted to prevent unfair advantages for private companies that are directly accessible from the interstate (like a plaza on a toll road) over companies having to operate at an exit off the interstate, it notes that a study by Arkansas and the FHWA found that commercialized rest areas could reduce costs and increase services and safety. Most state Departments of Transportation are interested in commercialization, while NATSO is opposed.
"Given the ever-increasing need for limited public funds, public/private partnerships for parking area development may provide a way to expand commercial vehicle parking," says Hall's letter.
The board also called on the FHWA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the American Trucking Associations, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn., the National Private Truck Council and NATSO to work together to create and distribute a comprehensive guide, available both on paper and in electronic format, for all truck drivers to use that will inform them about the locations of parking areas, both public and private, and the space availability. The board notes that while there are various guides out there, they do not include all parking that may be available, such as park-and-ride lots or weigh stations, which some states have made available for overnight truck parking.
The NTSB also recommended to state governors that they make sure adequate parking is available and eliminate or modify time limits at rest areas that can keep truck drivers from getting adequate rest -- or redirect drivers from the rest areas to nearby parking facilities.